Project management, a designation, is confused by many and is under a misconception. Project Manager, Product Manager, Program Manager and much more all point to the same thing. In a small scale company, the program manager has to take up the role of project manager as well. The responsibility and the role has a slight difference when it comes to larger organization. The former would have to work a strategy and lay out the objective - under him or her comes all the responsibility. But the latter would deal with individual projects and plan a strategy for every new project. There you go, that’s the difference. Now, moving onto what I was saying, there are millions of articles and blogs written to explain the functionality of a Project Manager but not all get the gist of it. Let’s call Project Manager, PM for short. Easier to type and sounds a lot cooler too! 😉 Many of us don’t know what the role involves. Even I didn’t have an idea until I actually put myself in the shoes of a PM. It’s all in the part of acting on it.
When I joined, I was given the freedom to explore my job role. All I got was some words of wisdom and that clear cut truth that people can start their work only if they know what to work on and I had to let them know it. The first thing I did was give a nervous laugh, but the thought that my boss actually trusted me and was ready to let me take things into my small hands meant RESPONSIBILITY. That’s how I learned to be a PM and here I am writing a blog on it! Thug life 😎
So, what actually is the role of a PM? Let’s see. I always find it easy to remember things when there is a connection between them, so I am going to use the same strategy here as well.
Imagine you are just joining a company, what will be the first thing that you do? Getting to know the team, understand what they are working on and how they are working and have a work process to follow. Well, the role of the PM is to do the same, but follow it up everyday. Sounds easy? Here, is the catch! There are theories saying that the PM has nothing to do with technical stuff but has everything to do with marketing and that’s where it all goes wrong! You need to know how things work which involves knowing technical stuff as well. Not to the level of building a bot or designing a website, but to the level that will let you explain your project without hesitation and what platforms were involved in the development process.
As a PM, you will be the one fuelling the projects to run smooth. Your day begins by interacting with the team to know what they are working on. It is not going to be just one project but many projects built on different platforms. All you have to do is know about all these projects, check the progress and see to the needs of the developer and the client. Once you figure this out, you will be able to report to the clients in a timely fashion. But, tracking the progress of a project is not going to be a walk in the park. You have to keep track of the features, set tasks and follow up on that, maintain a list of changes the customer has pointed out, manage the documents, have reference articles and images and many many more. It couldn’t have been easy for me either, if it wasn’t for Allt - a platform where I could do all the above mentioned and much more as well. To keep a client happy you need to gain their trust and it can be done by sharing the progress with them and showing them how you are working on it. Whenever a query or an update comes from the client’s side, it is your responsibility to let the developer know about it and get it done. When a client raises some questions, you cannot run to the developer all the time like a kid running to it’s mother. You should be able to handle it on your own. Both the client and the development team should be taken on a smooth ride during this journey of project development and you are the one driving them. Till the client is satisfied and has had his fill with the product you develop, neither they nor the development team can get off the ship. You should reach help them reach their desired destination.
But what if you run out of projects? What do you do then? Do you say that you have no projects to handle and point your finger at somebody else for not having any projects and stay idle? Absolutely not! It is your job to ensure that you have projects stacked up your sleeve. It’s not wrong to try different strategies to impress and get clients on board. You try everything, only then can you learn how-to and how-not-to look for customers. Finding new clients is not an easy job. But guess what, you will eventually figure out ways. Yeah, that’s right! There is more than one way. Let’s say that you will soon become a pro in spotting clients and get them onto your ship. One way of it is to follow social pages and reach out to people to let them know about your company’s existence, impress them and take them onboard. The other is to invade freelancer websites. Sounds desperate? Trust me, you can find many good projects and cool customers this way too! You can close your eyes and work on projects if you love the idea and the customer. They also teach you how to groom yourself to act like professional. If you are wondering how to have an interview round with the customer - well all I can say is that you can’t sound like you have never spoken to a human before!
Moving on from the customer hunt, what are you going to do with the products that your team built by spilling blood, sweat and food all over the floor and their desks? You sit them down and help them. If you don’t want a shampoo to be sold as cheese spread (Just a metaphor guys! Don’t freak out. You have been eating only cheese and not shampoo! 😛), then you need to help the sales executive have a clear idea of the project. Have them use or work on it till they reach a point where they could even write a book about it when asked to. Also, check if the project has met the customer needs and requirement. Then, these product babies are ready to be shipped off!
So, that’s it. It’s as interesting as it sounds. There is a lot to learn with each passing day. You meet all kinds of customers, deal with all kind of projects and figure out ways to deal with all of them. You are sailing the ship. Make sure you don’t hit by an iceberg or get caught in a storm. But, if you do, then you have to know how to get everybody safe and sound on shore. Enjoy being a PM. Oh, to top all of these you also get eat a lot of momo’s, gulp down litres of coffee and blame it on the work stress 😋